The second principal story line is a continuation of Jamie’s bid to fully rejoin the team. Last week, he had to win over Ted. This week, he has to win over … everyone else. He tries teasing, but he has customary difficulty in properly modulating the tone of his jests. He tries bribing his teammates but, let’s face it, it’s bribery. So finally, Ted takes over, reaching deep into his bag of coaching tricks — too deep, if you ask me.
He warns Coach Beard, to the latter’s horror, that he is about to become “that guy.” The guy in question turns out to be an alternate persona Ted occasionally adopts called, ouch, Led Tasso, who — as you likely guessed less than halfway through this sentence — is the opposite of Ted Lasso.
So Led/Ted gets out on the field and rants rudely and largely incoherently at his squad for a few minutes — I hope the whole bit about the ball-as-girlfriend was ad-libbed, because if not, it was some truly bad writing — before sending them back to the locker room. Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, whom we’ve scarcely seen all episode, witnesses the ruse and intuits its purpose: By uniting the team against him, Ted can distract them all from being aligned against Jamie. It’s a silly idea, halfheartedly executed, and I can only assume the show’s creators thought watching nice-guy Jason Sudeikis ranting like a bully would be a lot funnier than it actually was.
Sharon asks of the stratagem, “Has it ever worked?”—which reminded me of when Lindsay Fünke asked her therapist husband Tobias whether open marriages ever work on “Arrested Development.” (The answer is similar.) In this case, however, the “Led Tasso” gambit is an improbable success. Jamie’s re-acceptance with the team seems mostly complete, although not until after he joins Sam in the anti-Dubai Air protest. (Which, again, seems as though it would have serious ramifications.)
So: Dubious subplots(s) with a precocious teen? Check. Feel-good political subplot with consequences the show seems determined to ignore? Check. And — again, I’m sorry, but ouch — “Led Tasso”? Check.
I still enjoyed the episode, but these developments all made me a little nervous.
Odds and Ends
The very opening scene with Ted and Nora threw me into a state of moderate confusion when it came to the geometric contours of Nelson Road Stadium and the AFC Richmond offices. From the initial shots of Nora, with her glorious, upper-floor view of the field, I assumed that she was sitting at Rebecca’s desk. But no, when Ted subsequently pops in on Rebecca and Sassy, it becomes apparent that Nora was sitting at a desk in an outer office to Rebecca’s, perhaps a receptionist’s desk. Have we ever seen this space before? It seems like it might be relevant to Ted’s habit of popping into Rebecca’s office uninvited. Moreover, Ted actually asks, “Who’s the new receptionist?” Were we ever introduced to an old one? Am I missing something? Or were we just belatedly introduced to a desk we haven’t seen before that is ordinarily occupied by a receptionist whom, over the course of a dozen previous episodes, we’ve never met? Somebody might want to point out this prime working-space to the perpetually desk-seeking Higgins.
Thank goodness we always have Roy, even if it wasn’t as much of him this week as in the last two episodes. His latest sportscasting segment on “Gillette Soccer Saturday” goes much like the first one: full of sound, fury and profanity, signifying a lack of attentive censors at Sky Sports. (I misstated the network last week, referring to it as the BBC: Apologies!) Roy also gets to offer a neat bit of parenting advice to Rebecca — though neither one of them, of course, is a parent. And, as on the season premiere with the unlucky Mr. Wingsnight, Rebecca once again takes Roy’s advice. He’s becoming the show’s Angry Yoda.
This week’s pop-cultural references include Pat Benatar, Larry Bird, Tim Burton and Jekyll and Hyde. Feel free to point out those I missed — I expect there will be several — in comments. Thanks to those last week who flagged Nando’s Peri Peri, Nigella Lawson, Dave Grohl and Ricky Bell. And I promise I noticed the “mime is money” line (a Billy Crystal classic from “Spinal Tap”) and just forgot to write it down. A special thanks, too, to the reader who noticed that the name Dr. Sharon Fieldstone bears a rather notable resemblance to Dr. Marcia Fieldstone, the radio host/therapist who put Tom Hanks on the air to such profound transnational effect in “Sleepless in Seattle.” I can’t imagine this is a coincidence.